Licenses and Permits

Similar to jurisdictions throughout the country, Fairfax County requires companies located here or conducting business here to obtain certain licenses and permits. The selected list below is a brief overview of some of the licenses and permits required. For a more comprehensive overview, visit the Quick Reference Guide.


Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL)—All businesses, including home-based enterprises and self-employed individuals, that are located or operating in Fairfax County and have gross annual receipts greater than $10,000 must have a BPOL licenses. For more information, visit the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration's Web site.

Certificate of Authority for firms incorporated outside of Virginia—A corporation incorporated outside Virginia but doing business in Virginia must obtain a Certificate of Authority from the State Corporation Commission.

Incorporating in Virginia—To become incorporated in Virginia, an organization must file articles of incorporation with the State Corporation Commission and pay the required fees. Many services for both new and existing businesses are available online through the SCC's eFile system.

Occupational Licenses—Individuals engaged in various occupations are required to obtain licenses or permits from the county, state or federal governments. A sampling of occupations include:


Building (New Construction and Renovation)—A building permit is required for the erection of new structures and for modifications of existing structure in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is responsible for issuing permits for both residential and commercial development in the county.

Business Experience Program – BizEX—The BizEx program is an important first stop for business owners seeking to understand county processes, permits, zoning, site and building plans, parking, signs and more. BizEx staff will advise and guide business owners through the process to get any needed county licenses, permits, reviews or inspections. 

Electrical, Mechanical and Plumbing Permits—Separate permits are required to perform electrical, mechanical HVAC and plumbing installations. The length of the approval process varies with the nature and complexity of the project. Applications should be made to the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

Family Child Care Facility Permit—Fairfax County requires providers to have a family child care permit. This permit allows the provider to care for up to five children in his/her home (in addition to the children who live with there). Applications should be made to the Fairfax County Office for Children.

Fire Department Inspections/Permits—New buildings and existing building undergoing renovation may have to be inspected and/or permitted by the Fairfax County Fire and Resource Department's Fire Prevention Services Branch.

Food Service Permits—The Fairfax County Department of Health issues permits for food service establishments. The department conducts pre-opening and routine inspections to ensure proper compliance.

Home Occupation PermitFairfax County allows certain businesses and occupations to be conducted in a dwelling unit as a home occupation provided a number of limitations are met. Some examples of permitted home occupations are offices for artisans, cleaning services, computer design services, authors, and home crafters. No clients or customers are permitted with a home occupation. The one exception to this standard is a school of special education (i.e., piano or dance instructor), in which a limited number of students is permitted in the home.